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Code Hero: a game that teaches you how to make games! Your Code Ray shoots Javascript in Unity 3D. Hack the planet: Become a code hero!
Created by

Alex Peake

7,459 backers pledged $170,954 to help bring this project to life.

Code Hero April Update: Goodbyes and Codebase Soapbox

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From the project coordinator: 

GOODBYES

Hi everyone, I'm sad to tell you that I'm leaving the project, so this will be the last update from me. I hope that I was able to provide at least a little more communication during this time, though I know a lot of questions weren't answered. I'm glad to have gotten to know some of you and I'm sorry I wasn't able to provide more of those answers. Further updates will be up to Alex to arrange. On to the update I had prepared:

CODE

Developing games for multiple OS's is a challenge under the best of circumstances and for quite a while the only computers available to develop on were Macs. That meant that a lot of functionality couldn't be tested on Windows and a lot of functionality didn't work as intended on the Windows version of the game. Now a Windows system is available to develop on, some of those disparities are being worked on.

The first priorities were the code editor hot key and the dialogue display, both key to a smoother and more accessible gaming experience.

Up till now the tilde key, used to access the code editor quickly, couldn't do its job. Now, though it needs more work, the code editor can be called up using that hot key in the Windows OS version of Code Hero. The hot key was implemented differently in several places and has been unified to work more consistently.

The dialogue text displayed along with the voiced instructions was skipping numerous lines on Windows, due to certain characters being illegal in Windows file names. With the updated file naming conventions, all the voice audio should work equally well on both platforms.

Another key area that needs to be worked on is the code itself. A big part of working with a team is building the code in such a way that other people can more easily understand and work with existing code. Inevitably in the first rush of developing a product or a feature, a lot is written - the basic skeleton, working theories, experiments, new methodology. At that time it's not productive to stop and organize everything you do. There's some structure of course, but the methodology to be used is still in flux and the underlying cohesive thrust is only in its infancy.

Once things start to settle into a pattern the excess code can be cleaned up and organized into a more readable order/structure/organization. Unfortunately, there often isn't time to do so, which can work for a while, but when teams change members, the code base becomes less maintainable and adding new features without breaking old things can become an issue. It becomes impossible to track down bugs, to fix old features, implement new ones, or to simply move forward with the project.

In between working on new code and fixing bugs, one of the things we've started working on is that process. One way to improve the situation is documenting the code - doing such things as writing comments, sometimes with special Doxygen XML-like formats, that clarify what the intention of different pieces of code are, thus the call for those interested working on code documentation. The largest script in Code Hero is NGUIMaster. It is the current focus and we're glad to say that our first foray into cleaning up its regions and documenting it is going well. It's tedious work, but hopefully it will let the team work more cohesively and more efficiently, as well as easing the entry of those who join us in the future.

Thank you everyone and, again, I’m glad to have gotten to know you.

Code Hero March Update: Study Pics

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From the project coordinator:

PICS TO STUDY

We can’t give you the data, but here are a few pics from a study done yesterday at a Portland public school with 22 sixth graders:

UPDATES

I’m sad to say that I’m probably not going to be able to update as regularly or as often, but even though you may not hear from us as often we’ll still be working on Code Hero and moving forward with development.

Thank you for your kind words of support and your good wishes!

Code Hero Third February Update: Picturesque

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From the Project Coordinator:

CODE

We’re working hard to make the mission system’s internals as efficient to develop with as the brain interface user experience is for exploring the levels. We’ve rewritten the dialogue manager code to prepare it for further work.

We’re also trying to turn down the volume of the game in general, though our audio sources are somewhat scattered, so this will have to be done piecemeal as we find them.

PILOT STUDIES

We are continuing working with Pixel Arts and meanwhile have confirmed another study session with a public school in Portland. They’re very interested in technology, but currently have very little technology support. We’ll be working with their sixth grade Technology class and hope to start in early March.

Frustratingly enough, we won’t be able to tell you many details about what’s going on in the pilot studies themselves until after they’re done. That’s how it goes with this kind of research in general - information isn’t made available till all the data has been gathered and assessed. That means that even after the studies themselves are completed, the information has to be compiled and considered before we can communicate about it more specifically.

Despite that, it’s very exciting to be working towards putting what we have into observed practice and seeing what comes out of it. SCIENCE!

WEBSITE

We’re working on collecting in-game images in our efforts to build up the website. If any of you have any views you find particularly striking, use your computer’s screen capturing commands to take a picture and send them in to us at screenshots@primerlabs.com, or just tell us where in Code Hero they are. If you send us a name or nickname that you would like associated with the image, we’ll tag it with that name if we use it. If you need help figuring out how to take a screenshot with your computer, let us know and we’ll try to walk you through it. Remember that you can chat on IRC for help too.

Thank you everyone for your words of encouragement, and for celebrating our achievements with us!

Code Hero Second February Update: Studying Progress

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From the Project Coordinator:

TEAM

Elizabeth LaPensée (http://www.elizabethlapensee.com) has joined the team to lead research and iterative development. She holds a Ph.D. in Interactive Arts and Technology from Simon Fraser University and has eight years of experience in game development workshops for Indigenous (First Nations and Native American) youth. Dr. LaPensée also brings eight years of industry and academic experience as a game designer, writer, and researcher. She is excited about Code Hero as an out-of-the-box solution to teaching programming and providing access to Unity. She will work closely with Pixel Arts and use the results of the pilot studies to guide next steps in design.

She’s experienced, enthusiastic, and has some great insights to offer us.

CODE

Our current design discussions have focused on how to better guide the player along a path of learning and how to implement rewards and the achievement system in a way that will help guide and motivate a player through the stages of learning, giving them more feedback on their progress as they gain game-building skills. The three stages of feedback that we’re discussing targeting are granular, sustained, and cumulative feedback.

A few smaller things have been added but here’s the meat of what’s been coded: Using preexisting assets and some new code, Alex has implemented a path that the player walks along while inside that Code Hero brain you see when you get achievements. The player reaches nodes at which they are transported to different levels, each with a set of missions (as you’ve seen). Until one node has been completed, the next node can’t be reached and once a node has been completed, it can be reactivated at any time for another playthrough.

Neural Networks
Neural Networks

Thanks so much for all your support and feedback, we love to hear from you!

Code Hero February Update: Spaceout

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From the Project Coordinator:

Sorry guys, I completely spaced on posting yesterday. On with news.

PILOT STUDIES

Pilot studies in the last week that involved feedback from educators have helped us focus in on how Code Hero can supplement and replace curriculum in schools. We believe in reaching many spaces, including public schools, after-school programs, libraries, hackerspaces, and homes. The pilot studies are helping to inform how we can best fit in these diverse spaces. Thank you for your support and especially to Pixel Arts as we move forward with pilot studies that involve youth players in the next two weeks.

T-SHIRTS

There has been a delay with the shirts this past week. They’re still being worked on and you can still change your order and address on the survey, but unfortunately they won’t be sent out yet. We’ll try to keep you updated on progress. As we said, we didn’t want to promise dates until things were actually on their way and this is one example of why we’ve tried to keep to that.

SERVER CONCERNS

There was a comment on last week’s update posted by Aaron Burke about the user’s settings. He brought up the concern that servers aren’t always reliable. I had described the way in which settings would be saved on the servers, but had not included the information that they would also be saved on the user’s computer, so I wanted to assure you that the settings and achievements that are linked with the user’s profile will be available even when not connected to the server.

Thank you everyone for your comments and feedback, we really appreciate your support and involvement!